Thursday, October 29, 2015

Clothing Rants? Agaaaaaaaiiiiiin? (yes)

Walking out of the dressing room, you need the friend (that Steph!) that looks straight at your crotch.
"Hmmmm. No."
"Almost, but Whisker Kitty."

Our nemesis this year whilst cloth shopping has been the dreaded whisker kitty, probably not noticed by many. (Part of the importance of our noticing is that we both notice and can't abide the kitty.)
I'll spare you anymore suspense:

These pants are clearly just too big. But can you see whiskers in the groin area?


 CROTCHSHOT! The whiskers are there!
This examples doesn't look as bad as what we encounter in the dressing room because we are at an outlet and that is where they sometimes put the creations of an angry or lazy cutter of fabrics. Where the newbie's sewing skills are sold. 
I get it. 
Doesn't mean I need to walk out of there thinking I am wearing slacks when I am, in fact, wearing an ASPCA worth of W. Kitty.

I have since bought on line a pair of my yummies yummers favorite- corduroys. The only color my dear friend Eddie B had left was a beige, but it was hugely discounted so yes. Thank you. Please.

Well, I just tried them on and they do fit me as they promised that they would fit like their line of jeans....but.....where is the lush? Where are the deep valleys and high rifts of swish swish swish? These aren't corduroys. They are textured pants. They are thinner than jeans so please do NOT sell them for Winter wear....but knowing they are cords I just can't pull them out in June! So shelf life season-wise and yet, not seasonal. My cords have gone the way of the burnout and the slub I have ranted about before.

And now, of course, I can hear my mother's voice saying, "Kathleen, you get what you pay for." But that is just it! They were selling for money! The whisker kitties had a big enough price tag, too. Slubs are costing money! But there is no longer the material to back up the price.

As always, my disclaimer- I am not a fashionista. I am terrible at spending money on clothes for myself. But I tell you, I have started perusing the sale tab on places like Peterman's, I bring in my fake ID so I'm old enough to go to Talbots, I am starting to invest in higher quality clothes. And I also know I will be that old teacher at the school that is wearing something very outdated and slightly faded because I am not throwing this full wale cords and non whiskered stuff out, and my mom will no longer be here to insist I buy woolite.

I could write a whole other post on butt flaps and other such fashion nopes Steph and I didn't put in our shopping bags of disappointment at the outlet....and maybe I will because......

Friday, October 23, 2015

Not Yet.

I just dropped off my oldest daughter and her close friend at the school's Monster Bash 7th & 8th grade dance. There was a little hemming and hawing for a while this month about whether or not she was going to go. In the last week, there seemed to be a flurry of classmates asking or being asked out to the dance. Being fortunate enough to have a daughter that shares with me, I heard about some of the drama and the who is with who.

I asked her, "Do you wish that someone asked you to the dance?"
I really had no idea what her response might be. Only in the beginning stages of puberty and all that awesomeness, I wasn't sure where she really was with crushes and such.

She answered, "No. Not yet."

The maturity of her answer struck me. Not yet. She is not ready yet. She will be someday. She appreciates just watching it. There will come a time when she may feel left out. Right now, some chicken nuggets and macaroni with a good friend was all the date she needed.

I do and I don't remember this time in my life. I am fascinated watching middle schoolers all day at school and chatting more intimately with one at home. What was I doing at 12? Other than growing larger and carrying the literal and figurative weight that entailed. I wonder if I knew what I was and wasn't ready for. Was I aware that I had some say in that?
I feel like at 6th grade, I was a tourist in the world of puberty....not really going through it. Watching others' appearances change. I knew I was supposed to have a crush and grabbed one up in my mind to refer to. It mirrored most of the girls' crushes.
As for 7th grade- I can't remember any of it. I don't even know what homeroom I was in. It was a miserable year. As was 8th grade.

But today in school, I watched my 7th grader skip down the hall to do recycling.

As in-she skipped.

She holds such happiness. When I see her in the hallway, I am immediately at ease, comforted by her simple presence. I'm elevated by her excited wave "hello". I can breathe easy, fully understanding now that our children do not relive our lives.

Colleen holds more confidence than I had predicted for her, and I am burning the rest of the rough sketches I had of her in my head. She is a molding all her own.
I am quieted by this life lesson.

(A Colleen creation- she is obsessed with pandas)

Saturday, October 17, 2015


My mother had Breast Cancer. It was caught early and she had the lump removed, some lymph nodes removed, and a tattoo placed upon her breast for radiation. She thought it even stranger that 2 of her kids had tattoos after having to get her own.

My mother has been rendered speechless once in her life that she will admit to- when she met the Pope. Other than that, she will pretty much talk. People she doesn't like get a different tone of voice and clipped words, and even some rueful laughs. She will talk to strangers about anything She will talk to animals to tell them to get lost. She will talk to her children's friends about what they don't tell their own parents. 

When she came home from her diagnosis and immediate removal of the cancer and nodes, she was silent. That scared me more than the diagnosis.

My mother finally spoke to tell me to not tell the boys-my 4 brothers and an Elon- and I looked at her and to her face(!!) told her no. I would be calling them. I took the receiver off the wall phone and pulled it into the mud room. As I closed the door she slowly turned and went upstairs, batting the twisted phone cord out of her way. I think that was my first openly defiant move towards my mother ever (the sneaky defiances don't count). 
I was 20. I grew up at that moment. 
You could hear it. It was so abrupt it had a sound, a color, a smell, a feel, and it left a mark.

My mother does not like to be referred to as a survivor.
She was looking out of her apartment window 17 years later with me as the sun was just beginning to rise over the Charlestown Navy Yard. She was waiting to take me to the starting line for the Avon 2 day walk for breast cancer. She wasn't saying much and I knew it was because she was feeling things. She finally said that it was complete incompetence that killed her mother. Breast cancer that the doctors did not understand how to handle. It finally made it's way to her brain. 

She didn't talk about Grangy's dying often, and I listened quietly. We didn't say much about it because being the same person, my mom and I, we both hate being choked up. We want to be tough. In the air was her feeling off loss and her feeling of pride. "It is so good of you to do this" she said. "I never did stuff like this." 

My mother always donates the most to me in the fight to end breast cancer. I don't think she sees it as her donating to the fight against the cancer itself. She donates to me, her child, because she supports me most of all. She asked me why I was so involved. Many people asked me that over the years. There is so much that swirls in my chest and puts an ache in my throat, but the spoken reason is easy. 

I lost a grandmother early. I fight that.  

My mother was hurt by it. I want to destroy anything that hurts my mother. 

When my aunt was diagnosed, it upped the ante. I will admit- I felt a little surrounded.......

And then I had a daughter. 
And then I had another. 
No contest. 
The disease ends here. Before it has any chance to reach my children.

It is October. Not the only month in which you should feel your boobies....but the one in which you may remember it the most. You will be surrounded by pink. You will be boobsmacked by all the ribbons. All year long you will be surrounded by fundraising. I used to take a full year to raise all the money I needed in order to join a walk-a-thon for breast cancer. Now what I do is this: I make a meal when needed. I attend an event when I have the time. I donate money to the cause. I volunteer my time when asked and I have it to give. 
And I promote Pink Revolution
I choose Pink because it is local. It has no payroll. It supports Umass Cancer Center in Worcester. It supports local women in need of help while battling breast cancer. The money reaches an area where change is happening.

And while we are at it, the Co-Founder of Pink Revolution also helps run the Pancreatic Cancer Alliance. Having just lost my sister-in-law to pancreatic cancer, I want to share this link, too


                                     Cancer can suck it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Losing Eileen

Loss comes in two parts for me. It starts with the idea that a person I love is going to leave me, this earth, all the people to whom she gives love and from whom she receives love, forever. 

I won’t hug this frame again.
She will never walk through that door.
How does that smile not radiate across the table?
Who will read these books?
In that chair?
Who will have that voice of reason and that no nonsense approach in a world of nonsense?

Then comes the part when the person is gone. 
How quickly the timbre of her voice will leave my memory when I swear it won’t ever. 
How soon I will rejoice in a memory shared with me, new for me to take in, making me miss her all the more. 
The silent moment in a dinner conversation she might have filled. 
The beat of a moment when you realize she is not walking in the room behind her family. 
The vacuum of breath in that void.

At her passing, thoughts of which mourning is the worst has begun. Is it the one that comes first? The new slap of realization across the heart? Because that feels pretty terrible. Or will it even be more heartbreaking once she is laid to rest with witnesses to our pain and grief around us. We don’t even know the pain of it yet.

It will be both. 

There will be no winner. Mourning, both parts, will hold the ache in the throat of trying not to cry. The involuntary shallow inhale of breath when realization enters the mind. 
The tension of the jaw. 
The speeding of the heart rate. 
The heat followed by the chill.

And mourning has other branches. What I feel when I think of the husband being left behind. How would I feel as that spouse? And because her husband is my brother, how I ache for my brother’s pain. And then I think of her daughter. How unfair she loses her mother. How I would hate to lose my mother as a teenager. How I would hate to leave my teenaged daughter. How I would be so sad to leave my husband behind; my jealousy at his having the joy of raising our children. 

Or I would not have that reaction at all. 
Or I would be encouraging. 
Or I would be something I cannot now know because I am not in it. 
I don’t know.

We have lost Eileen. 

Her family has. 
My family has.
Our family has.
This world has. 
The Cape Cod air won’t have her to wrap around. 
No ocean nor bay will hold her solid form. 
The books she has not read will never be read by her. 
A student never under her guidance will never learn from her directly. 

We have lost Eileen.

I have gained so much in my 30 years of loving Eileen.
I gained a sister and a friend.
I gained grounding conversations and pep talks.
I gained insight from her openness to talk about her dying.
I gained understanding in watching her last days.

She brought us the human walking (swimming) and talking definition of determination.
She brought us warmth.
She brought us her family. 
She brought us chocolate.
She brought us the art of sleeping-reading on a couch.
She brought us waving hands of happiness before the hug.
She brought us someone to dance with Dave.
She brought us someone to love my brother as he deserved to be loved.
She brought us Ann Marie.
Thank you for Ann Marie.

The world was better with her in it and those who know her know she died too young. And I am thankful that I have 30 years worth of memories to wade through. And I know I can't have 30 more. 

But I will take some time to wish that I did.